Delightfully irreverent and so very entertaining.

SUBURBAN DICKS

From the co-creator of Deadpool: Two unlikely suburban misfits team up to solve two very real murders in “a small American town rife with racial and cultural prejudice.”

Kenneth Lee peaked early as a reporter when he broke a major sex scandal; unfortunately, those glory days are far behind him. Andrea Stern, once an up-and-coming FBI profiler responsible for catching a serial killer, is now hugely pregnant with her fifth child and spends her days toting her other four kids to and from the train station to drop off and pick up her commuter husband. When Andrea pulls into a gas station parking lot and happens upon a murder scene—the victim was Satkunananthan Sasmal, who'd been pumping gas—her sharp eyes and analytical brain instantly register some key details. A few days later, after a chance encounter with some Indian American women who lay out the realities of racism in the community—they can’t even get their requests to put pools in their backyards approved, much less count on the cops to solve a murder—Andrea is hit with an idea that takes her deep into the local records. She teams up with Kenny, whom she knew when they were teenagers, and soon they're uncovering bones from a decades-old murder that is directly related to the recent shooting. Along the way, Andrea discovers how much she loves using her brain for something other than planning her children’s schedules, and Kenny reestablishes his willingness to do whatever he can to break a major story. (As Andrea says, “He was a dick, but he was good at it.”) The obvious play on dicks really sums up the tone of the novel. Satire is hard to establish and even harder to maintain, but Nicieza flawlessly critiques the pervasiveness of suburban racism, the challenge of stay-at-home motherhood, the toxic culture of White masculinity, and the self-aggrandizing role of the media, and he does it with a pair of completely flawed yet appealing characters and a diverse cast of voices.

Delightfully irreverent and so very entertaining.

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-19126-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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